Ashara Mubaraka 1443 H
Majlis 1: 2nd Muharram al-Haram
In the first ever ʿAshara Mubāraka presided over by a dāʿī mutlaq within Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS addressed the gathering, ‘O, congregation of seekers of knowledge!’ He then added that each one of those gathered is a student, who in the quest for knowledge has proceeded towards Aale Mohammed’s AS centre of learning: Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah.
Allah Taʿālā states in the Holy Quran:
Maintain Allah’s taqwā (piety) and Allah is the one who will teach you, for Allah is all-Knowing
Referencing the above āya sharīfa, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained the connection between taqwā and knowledge declaring that when one practices taqwā, he is blessed with a great bounty: Allah becomes his teacher. Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS also revealed that the foundation of taqwā is upon muhabbat, which is therefore the source of knowledge and this muhabbat increases through the zikr and remembrance of Imam Husain AS. Thus the path to taqwā and subsequently divine knowledge, is the zikr of Imam Husain AS. It is the ‘best of provisions for those who remember,’ and the reason for which we have gathered here today.
Illustrating the inspired knowledge of those who are taught by Allah Taʿāla, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS retold an event, initially narrated by Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA, who described it as a ‘graceful occurrence’. One day Maulana Ali, Maulatona Fatema, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain, salaams upon them all, were each contending with each other as to which one of them was the dearest to Rasul Allah SAW. Unable to make the decision on their own, they naturally sought out Rasul Allah SAW for a verdict. Rasul Allah SAW told Amirul Mumineen AS to sit behind him, and instructed Maulatona Fatema AS to sit before him, and both imams to each side. He then declared, ‘You are all of me, and I am of you’ to the content of all, showing that they were all equally dear to him.
Reflecting upon the topics and themes of previous ʿAshara Mubārakas, Syedna al-Dāʿ al-Ajal TUS recalled that in 1441 H in Colombo, he had expounded upon a set of counsels given by Amirul Mumineen AS to his son Imam Hasan AS. This year, he stated, he wished to centre the discourse upon a series of kalāms by Amirul Mumineen AS in which he outlines the things that one should seek, where they can be found.
Syedna al-Minʿām TUS highlighted a confluence of a number of occurrences at the start of this new year. He chose Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah as the venue for ʿAshara Mubāraka 1443 H, the historic institute which was established by the 43rd al-dāʿī al-mutlaq, Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin RA. He then mentioned that Aljamea, Nairobi, which was established in 1432 H, has now completed 10 years since its inception. The final fortunate coincidence is that in 1419 H, when Syedna Mohammed Burhanddin RA convened the second of his two ʿAsharas in Nairobi, the 2nd of Muharram was a Tuesday as it is today.
Identifying the kalām mubārak for today’s waʿz mubārak, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS quoted Amirul Mumineen AS:
I sought leadership and found it in seeking knowledge and in taqwā.
Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that if you seek knowledge and practice taqwā, leadership positions will automatically find their way to you. Mufaddal Maula TUS expanded on this concept by declaring that anyone in a position of leadership, be it a head of state, a company president or even the head of family, has the potential to ensure the proper functioning of what they are in charge of. He spoke of the great deal of deliberation that takes place surrounding leadership qualities and how courses are even offered for their development. However, Amirul Mumineen AS, the recipient and bearer of Rasul Allah’s SAW naṣṣ, encapsulates all the qualities required for leadership in two phrases: seeking beneficial knowledge and practising taqwā.
In expanding upon the concept of seeking knowledge that benefits, Maulana TUS emphasized that one should go far and wide if needed, not being ashamed to learn and seek knowledge in a variety of different fields. To illustrate the importance of variety he cited the example of Nabī Yaʿqub AS. When his children set forth upon their journey towards Nabī Yusuf AS, he discouraged them from entering Yusuf’s court from a single door and instead instructed them to enter from different doors. The doors are an analogy for acquiring different types of knowledge using them as a means to access Yusuf Nabī AS. Syedna TUS then counselled Mumineen to focus their efforts on human resource development, and to nurture in their companies and businesses personnel of varying talents and skills so that they may all contribute to taking the business forward.
Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS declared the error and deficiency of those who rely on their followers’ ignorance and take pains to ensure that they remain ignorant in order to lead them. To illustrate how the Duʿat Mutlaqeen have always encouraged Mumineen to seek knowledge, he cited an event that was narrated by Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA. During the time of Syedna Abdullah Badruddin RA, a group of malintent illwishers made false allegations against Syedna Badruddin RA to the Minister in Burhanpur. They alleged that Syedna Badruddin RA was against educating his followers. In Rabīʿ al-Awwal or Rabīʿ al-Ākhar of the year 1329 H, a letter arrived from the Minister in Burhanpur instructing the Collector in Surat to inform Syedna RA that his presence was requested in Burhanpur on a specific date at mid-day. People in Surat began to discuss whether Syedna RA would travel to Burhanpur for it was his custom to only travel to a place when invited for an event, save Mumbai which he frequented. It was suggested that Syedna RA respond by saying that he was unable to travel to Burhanpur for he only travelled for specific functions and that there was much work to attend to in Surat. The officials in Surat held Syedna RA in high regard and thus the collector counselled him to go to Burhanpur, for if he did not, his absence would serve to strengthen the case against him. The Collector insisted that Syedna RA should travel under any pretext he deemed fit, but he should travel nonetheless. Syedna RA accepted, though upset by the events that had transpired, and travelled to Burhanpur. Since no specific time apart from the word mid-day had been mentioned, Syedna RA arrived at noon to the specified venue accompanied by Miyasaheb Mhotabhai on the day of the meeting. Syedna RA made his way to the office of the secretary who in turn informed the official whom Syedna RA was to meet that His Holiness had arrived and was requesting that he be accompanied by Miyasaheb Mhotabhai for the meeting. The official readily obliged. Syedna RA entered the minister’s office and was seated next to him at a large, round table. The conversation then began in Urdu and Syedna RA responded to the allegations made against him with resolute firmness. As a result, it was made evident that the allegations were false and were the result of enmity borne towards him. The discussion came to a close with the official asking Syedna RA outright whether he was against education. Syedna RA vehemently denied this and was greatly pleased with the outcome of the events.
Syedna Saifuddin TUS then exhorted Mumineen, members of the Dawoodi Bohra community, to pursue all beneficial fields of knowledge and to become proficient in all the skills that are advantageous to the community so that it may flourish with barakāt and saʿādāt. The end goal being to acquire the happiness of Walī Allah who is the manifestation of Yusuf Nabī’s AS beauty in every era.
The knowledge of Imam Husain’s zikr, as Mufaddal Maula TUS explained, is that knowledge which provides the greatest lessons and qualities of leadership the likes of which no other knowledge can provide. The leadership gained from this zikr helps one in all spheres of his or her life: personal, familial or social.
Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi TUS explained the importance of rules and laws in institutions of leadership such as countries and companies. Both these entities form laws by which their citizens or employees must abide. Often, these laws are enforced by compulsion and are observed only with great difficulty. When an employee does not adhere to a company’s policies, he is often fired.
Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS then shared some wisdom from the writings of previous Duʿat Mutlaqeen RA in which the concept of ṭarīqa muthlā, or the straight or perfect path, was explained. The Duʿat Mutlaqeen RA have implemented a system of laws that are neither facile nor arduous but strike a balance between both. If an individual is forced to work under difficult circumstances, eventually, fatigue and attrition will lead him to abandon his work. However, if the work is effectuated with a level of ease, then there is a greater chance that the individual will stay true to his course and remain loyal. ‘Between fear and hope’, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS stated. A work environment where there is both hope for reward and fear of repercussions is the most effective. Like a child’s swing where a parent both brings him close and also pushes him away.
The foundation of all systems of law is the remembrance of Imam Husain AS. It is for this very reason that Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA used to say, ‘Even if you shed one tear, my work is done.’ Wherever he would go he would narrate the shahādat of Imam Husain RA, causing tears to flow even from the eyes of those with hearts like stone. Syedna TUS then asked, ‘Is it an easy task to cause tears to flow?’ However, Syedna Burhanuddin RA made them flow with such ease, and in such a manner that their flow continues to increase. Not once does the thought cross our minds that we have shed a lot of tears or done a lot of mātam, but rather the belief is that even the act of ransoming one’s soul is inconsequential.
Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS then explained how easy Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA made it for Mumineen to carry out his directives. There was once a time when memorizing even a few surahs of the Quran was a formidable task, however, due to the zikr of the speaking Quran, Imam Husain AS, these difficulties have eased. He then mentioned that at the time of their mīthāqs, around 75% of boys and girls request for duʿā mubārak for hifz. And during nikahs, brides and bridegrooms proudly do ʿaraz that they have memorized the entire Quran’. He remarked that many of them are not even students of Aljamea, and were able to commit the entire Quran to memory from the confines of their homes.
Likewise, sustaining an endeavour like Faid al-Mawaid al-Burhaniyya, providing each house with a meal and that too on a daily basis is no mean task. However, it is through the remembrance of Imam Husain’s AS three-day hunger and thirst that such a feat has been achieved. He added that Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA had rebuked those who questioned the need to feed Mumineen, and felt that there were more worthy endeavours that merited the channeling of communal resources. Syedna al-Muqaddas RA asked them to remain hungry for a month or forty days and then say what they have to say. ‘You dine on a table, consume multi-course meals, attend functions and then tell us not to feed Mumineen? How can we accept that!’
The second leadership quality is taqwā, which in this context means that a person is aware of the fact that the Almighty knows his or her every action and deed. Such an awareness ensures that one will refrain from deceptive practices and interact with everyone kindly and with understanding. Syedna Saifuddin TUS instructed Mumineen to interact with their employees like they would with their friends. Establishing such relationships helps ensure that their employees will not deceive them and work in the best interests of the organization.
Maulana Ali bin Abi Talib AS states:
The instrument of leadership is magnanimity.
One key attribute of a leader is the ability to forgive. Allah states in the Quran:
And to forgive is closer to taqwā.
Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained that to forgive is a great attribute, however, this does not mean that one should not stand by his or her principles and place themselves in a position where they are taken advantage of. Nonetheless, Syedna TUS encouraged his audience to be forgiving. He said that a teacher should forgive the errors of his students, an employer that of his employees and the elders of a jamāʿat that of those they work with. Similarly in a domestic context, the head of the house should forgive the shortcomings of his family members instead of constantly berating them. Such an attitude would ensure that one’s blood pressure, as Maula TUS said, would not keep fluctuating between ‘low’ and ‘high’.
Highlighting the extremely wise and pious leadership of Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin recounted some of his words of counsel from his visit to Nairobi in 1383 H, a journey in which Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA had accompanied him. The following is a summary of this counsel:
Allah Taʿālā created man for the purpose of acquiring knowledge and since he lives in this world, the knowledge he should first seek is how best to live. Thereafter, acknowledging that he will not live forever, he should seek knowledge about the Hereafter, which the Awliyāʾ Allah AS possess as well. It is a gift to them from Allah Taʿāla and they are the ones who teach us which knowledge to pursue and the manner in which it should be pursued. Reciting the Quran is very important. No matter how many times you recite the Quran, it is always new and fresh. When other texts are recited once, twice or thrice they become old, but whenever you recite the Quran, it is as though you recite it for the first time.
Barakat is not visually seen but can be perceived by the intellect. It is erroneous to believe that only those things which can be seen with the eye are true. There are numerous things which cannot be seen by the eye, yet cannot be refuted. For instance the television, which receives waves transmitted from far away, converting them into visual output without any visible intermediate agency. Man has made these and other such instruments like the aeroplane, which is modeled after birds and their ability to fly. Through successive development, aeroplanes have become incredibly fast and can ascend to great heights. Man has achieved these feats and yet he forgets that it is Allah who has enabled him and given him the power to do so. One reason behind this is the type of education imparted to him and the atmosphere in which it is imparted. It is thus incumbent upon Mumineen to stay true to their atmosphere. Animals dwell in their habitual atmosphere and do not stray from it. For instance, horses will not be found in atmospheres or environments to which they are not accustomed. Mumineen should similarly stay true to their atmosphere and know what the Daʿwat is. Allah Taʿāla states: ‘For Him is daʿwat al-haqq (the righteous and true daʿwat).’ Mumineen should be aware that they reside in this Daʿwat and are its inhabitants. Some people are so ignorant that they do not even know where they reside. If asked, they do not know that they reside in Nairobi. The people of Daʿwat should be well aware of who they are.
Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA then went on to say that the colonial government and its education system, which had once prevailed in the region, had created such an effect that when he once asked a Mumin who their father and mother were, the person replied. However, when asked who their maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather were, they did not know. In a separate instance, Syedna RA asked someone the same question and was told that they did not know and would ask their mother. Syedna RA then asked him who Victoria was and immediately received a reply that she was the daughter of so and so. Syedna RA further prodded that individual asking him who her ancestors were and who succeeded her and received prompt and correct responses to each question. This, Syedna RA enumerated, was the result of the education system prevalent in schools at the time. Nobody at home taught them the history of their own ancestors and so they forgot what was their own and remembered what was alien to them. Similar is the case of etiquette and traditions. Many forget our traditions and assume the traditions of others. This should never be the case. We should always remember who we are.
Hurr AS, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS informed us, was a leader. He was the bravest of the Kufans and led a contingent of a thousand men. After he approached Imam Husain AS in a display of great humility and trepidation and was forgiven for his transgression, he charged into battle with the Imam’s AS permission. When he was finally overcome by the enemies and lay fallen on the plains, he called out to Imam Husain AS who found him severely wounded, blood spurting from his neck as milk does from a goat’s udder. Imam Husain AS took out Maulatona Fatema’s SA handkerchief and placed it on Hurr’s AS wound which then immediately stopped bleeding. Referencing a bayān mubārak by al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Abdulqadir Najmuddin RA, Maulana al-Mifḍāl TUS explained that Imam Husain’s AS reaffirming of Hurr’s AS name as his mother had given him was not simply a statement but an allusion to his ascension in spiritual ranks. In material terms, Imam Husain AS had no sultanate or wealth to offer Hurr. Maula exclaimed, ‘He could not even offer him water to drink!’ Whereas the enemies had everything. Nonetheless, Hurr AS left everything and placed his head at Imam Husain’s AS qadam mubārak submitting to his spiritual leadership.
Maulana al-Minʿām TUS disclosed a number of nuances regarding Imam Husain’s AS arrival to the sacred land of Karbala. After graciously guiding the shaikh towards the specific question that had been put forth, the shaikh famously responded with the word ‘Karbala’. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS revealed that at that moment Imam Husain AS took a fistful of soil from where he stood and smelt it. He then withdrew from his pocket the soil of Karbala which had been brought to him by Jibraʾīl. He took a breath of this soil and declared, ‘these are one and the same, their aroma is the same; this is the land of Karbala!’
After Karbala had been identified, Imam Husain AS summoned the townspeople and enquired as to the owners of the land. When they arrived, he informed them of his desire to stay there and asked them if they wished to sell him the land, for he would purchase it from them. ‘O shahzāda of Rasul Allah’ they exclaimed, ‘what is this you ask; you are the true owner of this land!’ Imam Husain AS gave orders to make camp, and the women and children of his caravan alighted with respect and dignity. Alas, as this scene unfolded before him, Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS explained how Imam Husain AS must have suffered thinking of the difficulties and indignities that were to come.
After Imam Husain’s AS shahādat, the Ahle Bayt’s AS caravan was made a spectacle as they were forced to pass by the inhabitants of Kufa who looked down at them with pity. Indignant at this treatment, Maulatona Zainab AS delivered a sermon not unlike the one delivered by her respected mother. When she spoke, she spoke with the eloquence of her esteemed father, Amirul Mumineen AS.
O people of Kufa! There are no people more treacherous and disloyal than you. Allah is angry with you. Your cries of remorse and tears cannot wash away your sins! How can they when you have slaughtered the final prophet’s beloved grandson. May you perish; Allah’s fury will descend upon you and you will taste humiliation and suffering. Which piece of Rasul Allah’s heart have you slain? Which daughter of the Nabī Mohammed have you paraded unveiled? You spilled his blood and tore to shreds her honour. Surely a most severe punishment will befall you all.
As Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal TUS sat upon the takhte imāmi looking towards the Mumineen before him, in the masjid, it’s saḥn and Aljamea’s palm tree courtyard he remembered the date palms of Karbala. ‘How happy they must have been,’ Syedna al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi TUS remarked, ‘when Imam Husain AS arrived.’ However, after a short span of 10 days, they would witness Imam Husain AS lying slain upon the sands of Karbala, his angelic body soaked in his blessed blood.
The date palms of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah today too are joyous that Husain Imam’ s AS dāʿī, al-Dai al-Ajal al-Fatimi Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, has descended upon Aljamea. And day by day until the final day of ʿĀshūra, as he recalls the heart-rending misfortunes and calamities that befell Imam Husain AS and his kith and kin, like the palms of Karbala, these palms too will wail with the Mumineen that sit underneath their fronds at the zikr of Imam Husain AS when expressed by his dāʿī.
May Allah Taʿālā grant Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin a long life in everlasting health and happiness until the Day of Qiyāmat.